1/24/11

A Wee Bit o' Burnout. And props to a heroic mommy.

So I've been scouring my divorce decree to see exactly where it's stated that I'm the Homework Parent. No luck yet.

This past weekend the angels were with Big Daddy. It's very rare that I send along "instructions", rarer still that there are multiple "instructions".

This weekend there were three. Number One: Henry's art teacher called me, asking specifically for 2 assignments he needed to complete and turn in. Their quarter ended on Friday and thankfully the teachers at the junior high cut some slack every once in a while. I don't know if it's Henry's goofy smile or obvious smarts that seem to always soften the teachers, but this art teacher wanted to give him a grace period. So I sent Big Daddy a text, saying that Henry needed to do his art homework.

Number Two: This effing science project of William's. I wanted Big Daddy to take some responsibility with this one, or at the very least, have William conduct his little experiment once while at his house. More specifically, I wanted Big Daddy to have to go to the grocery store and the auto parts store and the human hair store and gather up materials for this oil-soaking experiment. I wanted him to put newspaper down on every surface of his house and let a 10 year old pour out cups of vegetable oil and then put stuff in said oil. So I sent him a text, explaining what needed to be done.

Number Three: Molly's glasses broke. I bought this pair last year at Costco. The insurance that Big Daddy and Secretary have chosen for the kids is laughable...I think the deductible is around $5000.00, which means the person who takes the kids to the doctor or dentist or opthamologist gets to pretty much pay for the entire visit out-of-pocket. I sucked it up a few months ago, took Molly to Costco and got her some new glasses. Last week, she dropped her glasses in the hallway at school and they snapped right at the bridge. So I asked Big Daddy to get replacements. All it would take is a call to Costco.

Can you guess what happened?

Let me fill you in.

No homework was done. Not by Henry, not by William. According to the boys, not a word was mentioned.

And Molly's glasses?

Big Daddy told her to glue them.

Seriously. "Glue them together" he told her.

When they got home, with broken glasses and unfinished homework, I wanted to cry.

Just this once I wanted him to help out with this, the muck of parenting. For a few hours this weekend, I wanted him to be the one to snap them out of their Xbox comas, to be the Bad Cop who turned off the t.v. or said "NO!" to all things fun until the damn homework is done. I wanted so badly for him to have to be the Meanie who declared "no playdates or sleepovers until it's all done".

That's all I wanted. And once again, he disappointed.

And so with a weary sigh I sharpened some pencils and got my kids situated at tables or chairs or desks, calculators and workbooks at the ready. I answered the hundred questions, tried my hardest to act like fractions don't scare the crap out of me and patiently explained the difference between "hue" and "shade".

I didn't tell the kids how mad I was. I didn't tell them that although part of me knew, just KNEW down to my marrow that he wouldn't follow through, the stupid naive hopeful part of me thought maybe he'd come through this one time. Maybe he would actually sit down with them, look through their backpacks, ask them about what they've been learning. Find a nice sharp pencil for them and sit by their sides while they figured out how to reduce fractions and which colors are neutral and what static electricity means (I found out about all of these things today). I wanted him to stand next to our 5th grader while he found out that human hair absorbs more oil than kitty litter (and I really wanted him to have the fun of cleaning up oil).

But...I have to take some of the blame for this one. When he first left, I used to send the kids to him with their backpacks and their homework. Sometimes it got done, sometimes not.

And then, Secretary crawled in from the primordial ooze.

William was in first grade. He had some math homework...they were studying money, and had a worksheet that asked the kids to identify the names of the long dead presidents who graced them.

Secretary helped William with that one. And got most of them wrong.

That was when I decided that unless it was a huge project, most homework could be completed at home. Which was fine, when the kids were in elementary school, and before life became so....complicated.

Now things are harder, I'm busier and more stressed and frankly, the math is beyond my capabilities. Have you ever had to Google "how to reduce fractions"? I have. It's not cool. I think in all fairness, if Big Daddy isn't going to help pay for the food that they eat or the shoes on their feet or the clothes on their backs, the very least he can do is play Task Master a couple times a month.

But I guess that's asking too much.

On a brighter note: A friend of mine, a former neighbor and fellow school mom, did an amazing thing last week. She donated one of her kidneys to her brother. Her brother was born with smaller-than-average kidneys, and as he aged they became progressively weaker. My brave friend was tested for compatibility. She matched.

This past Friday they went to the Mayo clinic and went under the knife. Both patients are doing great.

My eyes are welling up once again when I think of this altruistic, heroic act performed by a friend. A mommy to four adorable kids who said to her brother, "Here, take my kidney. I've got a spare."

Her act of selflessness and show of love made me realize that the good parts of life aren't in the squabbles and the woes and the wishing that things were different...the good parts are in us (literally, this time). Giving of yourself. Helping someone out.

Whether it's helping by giving a kidney or helping by facing your crippling math anxiety for the hundredth time...in the end all that matters is that you cared enough to give.

So I guess if my friend Lee can sacrifice a kidney, I can deal with homework.

3 comments:

  1. Don't worry Jenny; it's all worth it in the end; I know, I've been there. They will never forget how you were the parent that was "there" for them; no matter how they may act as teenagers, and even young adults, in the end, it's you that will the most respected and loved. Trust me on this one. You're doing a fantastic job!

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  2. What a fuck stick. I'd much rather have you that shows you care than some dead beat as a parent.

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  3. OMG, what a total arse he is! Your kids will always remember who was there for them, all the time. And I'm not clear why he still got visitation rights if he was behind on support. Maybe our laws are different in Canada, but I don't think he would have been able to see his kids if he owed you all that money here. Either way, you are the good person and he is the asshat. That will never change :)

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